Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Senate Update

Iowa: Rep. Bruce Braley’s (R-IA-1) name is again popping up as a potential challenger to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), but don’t believe that he’ll run. Rasmussen Reports (9/22; 500 likely IA voters) just completed a poll that shows Grassley remaining as the state’s most popular elected official. Grassley enjoys a favorability ratio of 68:30%. He leads former state Rep. Bob Krause (D) 56-30% in the only ballot test question included.


Massachusetts: Now that it is politically expedient for Democrats to do so, the Massachusetts legislature passed a new law that allows Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to fill by interim appointment any Senate vacancy. Making an appointment upon signing the bill, Patrick chose former Democratic National Committee chairman Paul Kirk to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D). Republicans asked for a court injunction to bar the appointment. Kirk immediately said he would serve only on a caretaker basis and not run in the December/ January special election that has already been scheduled. Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) is quickly becoming the prohibitive favorite to win the seat via the election process. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, in an announcement that generated little surprise, publicly stated that he will not be a candidate.

Missouri: A new Rasmussen Reports poll of Missouri voters (9/21; 500 likely MO registered voters) reveals a dead heat between Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO-7) and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D). Both candidates were claiming 46% of the vote. Each has virtually universal name ID, but Blunt’s favorability index is a bit higher – 57:33% versus 52:42%. This race is expected to be one of the closest in the country

Nevada: Former Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV-3) quickly quelled new speculation about him jumping into the Senate race against Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). Porter reaffirmed his intention to remain in the private sector, thus leaving the field to GOP state chair Sue Lowden and former Secretary of State candidate Danny Tarkanian.


House Update

AR-2: Former GOP US Attorney Tim Griffin, who previously announced his decision to bypass a run for the US Senate, is prepared to announce his congressional candidacy against seven-term Rep. Vic Snyder (D). This could be an interesting race. Snyder never raises money in the off-year, and has less than $13,000 in his campaign account.

MO-4: As expected, state Sen. Bill Stouffer (R) is now officially running against 17-term Rep. Ike Skelton (D), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Former state Rep. Vicky Hartzler is already in the GOP primary. This race is attracting interest because the district is now overwhelmingly Republican and Skelton, as an important committee chairman, is a member of the Democratic leadership team. President Obama could only muster 38% in 2008 against John McCain; President Bush garnered 64% in 2004 versus John Kerry (D).

NY-23: Rep. John McHugh (R) has won confirmation as Secretary of the Army, meaning the expected vacancy in the congressional district is now official. Gov. David Paterson (D) has wide latitude as to when he schedules the replacement special election, but the actual day of voting must come 30 days after his call. Democrats, Republicans, and Conservatives have already nominated their respective candidates in anticipation of the vacancy. Democrat Bill Owens is already running television ads. Republican DeDe Scozzafava, commonly viewed to be the most liberal Republican in the New York state Assembly, is already at odds with the National Republican Congressional Committee over ads attacking the Democratic nominee. Businessman Doug Hoffman is the Conservative Party nominee and has the financial assets to become a factor in the race. Early polling shows him at parity with Owens, but trailing Scozzafava.


SC-1: Carroll “Trumpy” Campbell III, son of the late Governor Carroll Campbell, has officially announced his Republican primary challenge to Rep. Henry Brown. The 1st district covers the area from Charleston through Myrtle Beach all the way to the North Carolina border, hugging the South Carolina coast. Brown is viewed as vulnerable because of his closer-than-expected performance last year, when he won his fifth term with just 52% in what should be a safe Republican district.

VA-2: Former Virginia Beach mayoral candidate and Navy SEAL Scott Taylor announced his congressional candidacy, becoming the sixth Republican to vie for the right to challenge freshman Rep. Glenn Nye (D). None of the six, however, has previously won an elected post.

Governor Update

Arizona: Public Policy Polling (9/18-21; 617 likely AZ registered voters) reports the results of a new poll that exposes bad news for Gov. Jan Brewer (R). The survey shows a poor favorability rating (26:43%), reflecting widespread opposition to her call for new tax increases to balance the state budget. In ballot test match-ups, Brewer trails Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) 46-36%. Goddard also has a 45-37% lead over state Treasurer Dean Martin (R), who is also considering a gubernatorial run.

Georgia: The new Strategic Vision poll (9/18-20; 800 registered GA voters) reports little movement in the Peach State’s race for Governor. Former GA chief executive Roy Barnes (D) still leads Attorney General Thurbert Baker 45-30% in the Democratic primary. Republican Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine continues to maintain the advantage in his nomination battle. His lead is substantial: 38-15-10% over Secretary of State Karen Handel and Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA-9), respectively.


Iowa: Rasmussen Reports (9/22; 500 likely IA registered voters) reveals more bad news for liberal Gov. Chet Culver (D). They show Culver’s favorability index to be an upside down 43:50% (contrasted with the Des Moines Register’s 50:37% in their 9/14-16 survey [803 registered IA voters] conducted by Selzer & Associates). Culver would lose to former four-term Gov. Terry Branstad (R) by a lopsided 34-54% margin. Of even greater concern, RR finds that Culver trails businessman Bob Vander Platts 39-43%.

Maryland: A Gonzalez Research & Marketing Strategies study (9/8-17; 833 registered MD voters) over a rather long ten day period, posts Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to a relatively strong re-election position. O’Malley would beat former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) 49-38% and RNC

chairman Michael Steele by an even larger 52-37% margin. Neither Republican is expected to
make the race, however.

New Jersey: As the November 3rd election draws closer, a large number of polls are being commissioned. All data still gives Republican Chris Christie a lead in his quest to unseat Gov. Jon Corzine (D). The range is from one to eight points, but the numbers still show Corzine unable to crack even 40% in any of the studies. Independent candidate Chris Daggett is treading into double-digits according to most of the polls.

New York: Controversy is swirling in New York, as reports are surfacing that President Obama is actively advising Gov. David Paterson to forego seeking re-election because his poor standing is damaging other Democrats. Paterson appears intent on running. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is poised to run, but has not committed to doing so despite polls showing he would easily depose Paterson for the Democratic nomination and would top the Republicans’ best candidate, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to several public and university surveys.


Pennsylvania: Former Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D), currently a member of the Montgomery County Commission, is about to enter the Democratic race for Governor. Hoeffel will attempt to claim the allegiance of his party’s leftwing, since the more moderate sector will be split among as many as three candidates: Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, state Auditor Jack Wagner, and Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox

Wisconsin: Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) announced he will seek re-election and not enter the Democratic gubernatorial field. Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton is an announced Democratic candidate. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a former Congressman, may likewise enter the race. Republicans feature Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Rep. Mark Neumann. This race is rated as a toss-up.


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